Battleland has been reading aircraft accident reports since shortly after Orville Wright and his passenger, Army Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, crashed at Fort Myer, Va., in 1908, making Selfridge the first person ever to die in a plane crash, military or otherwise.
For decades, such reports – some hundreds of pages long — were pretty explicit. Some of those released to reporters under Freedom of Information Act requests contained complete autopsies of those killed, and color, glossy photographs from the crash site. And they photographed everything.
So it’s strange to read crash reports involving drones, like the one the Air Force released this week into an April MQ-1B Predator accident in Afghanistan. An engine failure doomed the remotely-piloted aircraft (RPA), as the Air Force prefers to call them.
But instead of the gory and ultimately numbing details about those aboard the ill-fated aircraft, all you get when it comes to the sections on how the people aboard fared is a simple line saying such topics are “not applicable for mishaps involving RPA.”
Drones, of course, do a lot of killing, even if American pilots aren’t killed flying them. We’ll save questions about whether that makes their use more likely for another day. For now, it’s just a pleasant change to read bloodless accident reports.